It goes without saying that one of the top reasons to visit Argentina is its rich and exquisite gastronomy. If you choose to travel fifteen hundred kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires Salta food will definitely be a decisive factor, as it is known all around the country for its unique, nourishing, and tasty variety of ingredients.
Here is a thorough selection of dishes you must try on your trip to Salta, (which is even better if it’s accompanied by a bottle of a traditional torrontés wine)!
1. The Locro
Prepared with corn, beans, chorizo, pieces of beef and pork, and other vegetables like onion or pepper, this kind of stew is the most traditional dish of the Andes region. The sweetness of the corn merges perfectly with the spice of the chorizo and results in a consistent soup, perfect for regaining your strength after a long day or warming up in winter.
2. The Empanada Salteña
The delicious empanadas are a great “fast food” choice when you need a break from walking and sightseeing, or maybe just to take the edge off your hunger. It’s unbelievable how an apparently insignificant pastry can bring together the different flavors and sensations of the province. Cuts of lean beef, onion, pepper, condiments, and the essential ingredient that differentiates it from the rest of Argentinian pastries: potato, are the basis of the so-called “recado” that’s stuffed into the empanada. Although they’re traditionally served fried, baked “salteñas” are also wonderful. Just remember that they are an unmissable Salta food.
3. Humita & Tamales
These traditional Mesoamerican dishes are both made of dough of corn and onions gently fried in cow grease. Salteños call it humita when they add cheese (goat cheese is the best option), squash, basil, milk, onions, and pepper; wrap it up in the corn’s leaves and wait for it to boil. It is a perfect choice both for sweet fanatics or salt lovers, as it can be presented either way, but remember: never eat the leaves if you don’t want to be laughed at by the locals.
Meanwhile, the dough of tamales has smaller pieces of corn, and more condiments and is mixed with onions, cheese, beef, and sometimes fruits or other vegetables before wrapping it up in banana leaves. It has been a really popular dish since the pre-Hispanic period, when it was eaten by everyone, no matter their social class. It is so rooted in the province’s culture that during the month of July, the colonial town of Chicoana celebrates de national Tamal festival. Wouldn’t it be the best day to taste it?
4. Any room for dessert?
Did you think that this was it for your tummy? Not only did I leave many traditional dishes behind, like carbonada or guatia, but we still had the sweetest part of Salta food to come: its desserts. Among them, “quesillos” definitely stand out, made from cow or goat cheese –the greasy flavor of this last one, also a traditional product, makes it pretty addictive- and usually served with nuts, “membrillo” and honey, sugarcane syrup or another kind of jam. Likewise, it can be accompanied by the so-called “delicia dorada” (golden delight) of the province: “dulce de cayote”, which is also ideal for making sweet pastries or cakes like Pasta Real, a classic in Salta.
If you’re more of a fruit lover, the dessert for you is cuaresmillo, a type of small peach that isn’t tasty enough to be eaten alone, so it’s normally worth trying it as syrup next to cheese and nuts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “sweet” or “salty” person: you definitely won’t get hungry during your trip to Salta. Watch your bathroom scale!
To start planning your trip to Salta click here.
Written by Irene Valiente